AMMAN – On Friday October 18, 2019, at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Our Lady of Peace Center, Bishop Salim Sayegh celebrated the 60th anniversary of priestly ordination, which took place on June 28, 1959, in the co-cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Our Lady of Peace Center in Amman, where the ceremony took place, was founded in the 1990s by Bishop Salim Sayegh, as part of his lengthy 60 years of active pastoral action. An important date, which says a lot about the tireless work of this priest that began in June of 1959; a long journey in which he acknowledges the grace of God, observing in his homily that, although 60 years may seem a long time, they are in reality nothing but “a drop in the sea of eternity.”
Concelebrated by Bishop Giacinto-Bolous Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan and H.B. Patriarch Fouad Twal, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, Mons. Mauro Lalli, counselor of the Apostolic Nunciature of Amman, Fr. Shawqi Batarian, ecclesiastical judge of Amman and rector of the Our Lady of Peace Center, and about a dozen priests of the Patriarchate.
Also present were some permanent deacons and a good number of religious, including the Salesian Sisters and consecrated women of the Ordo Virginum, who oversee the pastoral center. Moreover, Bishop Sayegh was the one who became the promoter of permanent deacons in Jordan and the for the establishment of the Ordo Virginum. Besides them, there are the Sisters of different congregations: the religious of the Rosary, of St. Anne, the Missionaries of Charity (of Mother Teresa) and the apostolic movements of the Focolare and Sermig (Servizio missionario giovani – Young Missionary Service).
The ceremony was very compact. It was an event celebrated in an atmosphere of prayer, meditation and friendship, in harmony with the sober and measured style of Bishop Sayegh. The songs were animated by the Choir of Fuheis. The homily was also very spiritual and simple in style, concentrated around the two focal points of the priest: the completely Christocentric aspect and the inevitable transcendental aspect of the priest (link to the Arabic text of the homily).
At the end of the Mass there was the traditional exchange of congratulations which Bishop Sayegh wanted within the Church. Touching were certain auspicious embraces, including the one with his “godson” by priestly ordination, Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo.
Starting with June 28, 1959, the date of his priestly ordination, the personal journey of Bishop Sayegh was very rich and uplifting. Along with priestly life he was a dedicated meticulous jurist, studying canon law in Rome in the 1960s and then holding important institutional positions as a judge in the ecclesiastical court, a Canon Law teacher in the seminary and Patriarchal Master of Ceremonies. In 1971 he obtained a doctorate in canon law, presenting and publishing a thesis entitled “Le Statu quo des Lieux Saints. Nature juridique et portée international,”
In 1976, he was appointed rector of the Latin Patriarchal Seminary of Beit Jala, the first of the diocesan clergy after 35 years of commitment (administration, teaching and direction) by the Betharram Fathers.
In December 1981 his Episcopal appointment was announced and the ordination took place on the Epiphany of 1982 in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, at the hands of Pope John Paul II; at the same time, he was appointed Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan by the Patriarch Giacomo Beltritti. Alongside this pastoral commitment, Bishop Sayegh created the new vicariate in Suweifieh, founded the Regina Pacis Center, promoted vocations, especially permanent deacons, instituted the Ordo Virginum in Jordan, and laid the foundations for the creation of a Conservatory of Music and a Catholic University, which would later be named “American University of Madaba” (AUM). He is also the author of an interesting publication on the sacred places in that part of the Holy Land: “Jordan, guide of the pilgrim.”
Having reached the canonical age, he resigned his post as auxiliary bishop in 2011, after having led the Patriarchal Vicariate of Jordan for 30 years. Since then, Bishop Salim lives in “his” center, is chaplain of the CIM Franciscan Sisters, a preacher of various spiritual retreats and a promoter of the Eucharistic spirituality of the Poor Clare Sr. Mary of the Most Holy Trinity of which he has already published three books: “Inner Colloquium” ( Arabic translation), “It is the love that leads to madness,” and “Like a breath.”
Filippo De Grazia
Foto di Osama Toubasi ©